August 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm #2955
If you are at this scary stage in the process, what has your experience been? Any advice for those of us hoping to in the near future?August 14, 2011 at 1:35 am #4136
Read agent blogs. Rachelle Garnder, Nathan Bransford (former agent), Bookends LLC, and more. They give lots of tips. I am currently querying here and there, but have so far been rejected. I was asked for a partial after a pitch at a writers conference. Pitching in person is great because you get instant feedback, but it’s scary. Still, well worth it, if you get the opportunity.
Also, check out Agent Query Connect which is a great place for all things query!August 14, 2011 at 3:35 am #4137
Use QueryTracker.com to find info on agents, use the forums to workshop your query, and when it’s ready, use QT to keep track of who you query, their response, followups, etc. Extremely useful.
Join AbsoluteWrite.com and put your query through “Query Letter Hell”, a share your work forum where you can get *really* useful feedback, revise, and get more feedback until you have it right. Before posting your own query, read those of others, and the feedback, revisions, etc. Practice critiquing them before you read the feedback to help you learn what works, what doesn’t.
Be careful what you say publicly, on forums, etc. One writer had an offer of representation, no contract yet, and replied to a question about the agent on a forum, and was less than complimentary. Even though she used an anon handle, she mentioned a couple of details. The agent rec’d a google alert, saw the thread, and recognized the writer from the details she had mentioned. Withdrew the offer. Discretion and professionalism are the name of the game, never to be forgotten. Badmouth agents/editors/reviewers and they *will* see or hear about it. Who can blame them for not wanting to work with someone like that?
Read agent blogs, as well as those of editors and experienced authors who blog about writing/publishing. Don’t stop there, though. Follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, any social media you can. Agents will often Tweet something like “Just wish someone would send me a…” going on to describe exactly what you’ve written. That kind of spur-of-the-moment comment doesn’t often make it to their blogs. You can reply that you have it and ask permission to query. Remind them of the exchange at the beginning of your email or even in the subject line, for ex, add re Twitter exchange mm/dd to the subject line. That prior contact can help you cut to the front of the line.
Don’t send queries to every agent on your list right away. Send to maybe 1/10. If you don’t get requests for partials, you know something is wrong with your query. Revise it and send to another 1/10. Repeat until your’re getting lots of requests. If those partials get rejected, you know there’s a problem with the beginning of your book. Revise, query the next 1/10. Repeat until those partials turn into requests for fulls. If your fulls are rejected, you know there’s a problem with the middle or end of your book. Revise, query the next 1/10. Repeat. I don’t remember the exact percentage of requests you should be getting, 15-20%, I believe.
On Twitter, follow the #pubtip hashtag. Lots of agents will tweet personal preferences, things people do in queries that get an auto R, etc. Make sure you follow each agent’s query guidelines to a T. Get their name right – yeah, use their name, not Dear Agent.
OK, this reply has turned into it’s own book… The biggest thing about querying is *Never* send out less than your absolute best work. Good enough isn’t good enough.August 15, 2011 at 5:08 am #4138
Kenra, I love your quote “Good enough isn’t good enough”. Hits the nail on the head 🙂August 16, 2011 at 12:13 am #4139
I am querying. I got 2 full requests for my women’s fiction suspense but am waiting, waiting, waiting to hear…August 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm #4140
Kendra’s response has lots of useful info. Thanks. I’ve queried only once, just to say I’ve done it. But I’m waiting to get my MS polished up even more before I continue. And I may also be putting off revising the query letter. I’ve had two different schools of thought on how I write my letter. My story is written from three different characters pov by alternating chapters. Some say to write my query letter using all three voices. I’ve tried this & it turned out way too long & confusing. So then I wrote it from the pov of one character then mentioned at the end that the story is from three perspectives (because I read an agent saying that was a simple way to do it) & was told that was wrong by the people who read it. I’m not sure how to go about it.August 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm #4141
Thanks Kenra, lots of useful info. Kathy, good luck! Keep us updated.
Tcjones30, Have you tried writing a query letter from you as the author rather than from your characters? Maybe this can remove some of the confusion and keep it on the simple side. From what I have heard, the simpler and straight to the point it is, the better. Also see this thread: http://www.ladieswhocritique.com/groups/young-adult/forum/topic/queries/August 27, 2011 at 12:58 am #4142
Your query will probably work better coming from you as the author. Writing it from a character’s POV is often considered gimmicky.
The best resource I know of for learning to write an effective query letter is the “Query Letter Hell” Share Your Work forum on AbsoluteWrite.com. There are people there who are truly experts – seasoned authors, editors, agents, people who’ve studied and studied how to do it right. There are other forums for workshopping queries, but IMO, they’re the best and most useful.
It would be great if a group for queries could be added here, to help everyone write a more effective one.August 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm #4143
Thanks Laura & Kendra! I’m going to pop over to AbsoluteWrite too. Thanks again.
-TerriAugust 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm #4144
Great advice posted on here so thanks to those who’ve shared. I’ve been in the query-revising process for quite awhile now, and have found that as I made changes based on some feedback from a couple agented authors, I realised things needed to change within my manuscript. So a few query changes became a few sets of revisions of the entire thing, but it’s come a long way.
I feel like I could indefinitely polish my query and therefore indefinitely polish my novel, but I’m far too close to it after working on it for so long. I finally sent a query out (just one) the other day to an agent I had long since put at the top of my list. Unfortunately, I got a rejection only 2 days later. But it wasn’t meant to be, and I know you’ve got to start somewhere.
It makes me wonder though if I should risk sending it again, or keep working at it. I’m amazed how tricky this querying process is. You could get it worded just right for one agent, but end up changing it before they even see it because the first 20 didn’t like it. It’s all scary. But I’m heading over to AbsoluteWrite.com for this Query Letter Hell forum. I think if I get some more positive feedback on it, I’ll be ready to move ahead.
Good luck to everyone here 🙂
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